Click here to read part four.
I want to take a quick look at a story in Genesis 20. We have been seeing a lot of how the wicked are destroyed because of their sin and the righteous are spared. But what happens when it is the righteous who sin against the pagan? Does God still intervene? I am happy to say yes...our loving, gracious God does. I give you Abimelech king of Gerar.
Abraham and his wife Sarah are traveling through the region of the Negev. When they come upon the region of Gerar Abraham is afraid that these people don't honor his God; so he lies. Sounds a little backwards I know. None the less Abraham lies and says that Sarah is his sister. Maybe the whole Sodom thing was still fresh in his mind. I don't know. Bottom line he lied-sinned-stepped out of the will of God. So Abimelech upon seeing this hot, single woman in her 90s takes her to be a part of his harem.
On night God comes to Abimelech in a dream. Not Abraham, Abimelech. God says "You are a dead man because of the woman you took, as she is another's wife." Gen. 20:3 Oh my goodness God is speaking to a pagan! And look the pagan responds "Lord will you destroy a nation even if it is innocent? He told me she was his sister...with a pure heart and clean hands I have done this." Gen. 20:4-5 God then says to Abimelech "Yes I know you have a clear conscience so I have keep you from sinning. That is why I did not let you touch her." Gen. 20:6
So here we have God speaking to a pagan king and Abimelech responding un-alarmed and unafraid. This shows us that along with the close proximity of the spirit realm in ancient times God did not only appear or speak to the righteous. God was made known to pagan and righteous people alike. (I am going to talk more on this latter.) Interaction with the spirit realm in ancient times was common.
So God goes on to tell Abimelech to return Sarah to her husband Abraham so that "you and yours" will not die. Remember sin=death and in the old testament prior to Jesus that meant actual death. What a gracious, loving God to warn Abimelech. Just as warning Cain "sin is crouching at the door" Gen. 4:7 But unlike Cain this pagan heeds the words of a righteous God and returns Sarah to Abraham. Wow...a God fearing, righteous pagan. Who knew there was such a thing. LOL.
So Abimelech returns Sarah. He is a little pissed at Abraham but does not let the devil take hold of the situation. Instead of being pissed...he honors Abraham and Sarah. And in turn he honors God in the situation instead of the devil. Warfare! He brings Abraham sheep and cattle. He offers Abraham workers to work for him. He tells Abraham he can live anywhere in his kingdom. To top it all off he brings 25 pounds of silver and gives it to Sarah. "I am giving this to your brother...to cover the offense against you...you are completely vindicated." Gen. 20:16 Love how he still says "brother". Come on he had to get a little jab right? :D But what Abimelech did was sacrifice goods that he owned for the vindication of Abraham. He atoned for Abraham's sin. That is righteousness!
At the end of the chapter Abraham intercedes for Abimelech that he too will be vindicated from any wrong doing. In the face of Abimelech's righteousness and honor how could God refuse? Well he didn't. God gave life back to the household of Abimelech. The surprise ending is that God had made all of the women in Abimelech's household barren because of Abraham's sin. If Abimelech had refused to return Sarah and sinned; death would have come to his household via infertility. The other catch is that Sarah had not yet bore Isaac at this point. What a mess it would have been if Abimelech did have sex with her and nine months later Sarah would have been wondering who the baby daddy was! Wow, what a good, gracious, loving God to both the pagan and the righteous. Let's check the sin/dominion formula on this one...
Creation-"You and yours will die" Yours meaning all your livestock and land.
This was averted because Abimelech did not sin.
Humanity-Death via infertility. Averted because Abimelech did not sin.
The Devil-Gains no dominion. The devil looses out on account of Abimelech's and Abraham's
Man himself-Abimelech does not sin and vindicates Abraham for his sin. Life for both!
Too bad that they don't all turn out that way. But this shows that all through the old testament God was known to many. It also shows that God honors the righteous man whether he is pagan or not. Righteous is righteous full stop. Finally God wants to bring life into any situation he can. Death and destuction is not the heart of God. The heart of God was and will always be love, life, and grace. Aren't we lucky!